Myanmar junta defends coup and accuses Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption

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Myanmar Junta Defends Coup And Accuses Aung San Suu Kyi Of Corruption
Armed police patrol a street in Yangon, Myanmar, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Associated Press Reporter

Myanmar’s military junta has defended last month’s coup and its actions towards those opposed to it.

At a news conference in the capital Naypyitaw, the military presented a video of a former political colleague of ousted national leader Aung San Suu Kyi claiming he had handed over large amounts of cash and gold to her personally, in what the military has characterised as corruption. Such allegations were previously denied by her lawyer.

Street demonstrations against the takeover continue. Many of the protests have been staged in a way that avoids confrontations with authorities, who have not hesitated to use lethal force to break up demonstrations.


Anti-coup protesters during a rally outside their homes in Yangon (AP)

Some marches were held before dawn in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, and elsewhere. Other protests adopted the tactic of having signs or other inanimate objects lined up in the street to serve as proxies for human demonstrators.

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The independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has verified 261 protesters’ deaths nationwide but says the actual total, including cases where verification has been difficult, is probably much higher. It said 2,682 people have also been arrested or charged since the coup, with 2,302 still detained or sought for arrest.

In its news conference, the military presented displays of seized homemade weapons and videos of street battles to argue that the demonstrators are violent and that its efforts to stop them are justified. However, in the weeks since the February 1 coup, protesters only began using organised violence after more than 100 demonstrators had been shot dead by police and soldiers.

The allegations against Ms Suu Kyi made by former Yangon chief minister Phyo Min Thein were first mentioned by the military several weeks ago. Last week the military-controlled Myawaddy TV station aired a similar video with a construction magnate who also claimed to have made large payoffs to Ms Suu Kyi.


Protesters hold images of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi (AP)

No supporting evidence for the allegations has been offered, and they are generally dismissed as an effort by the military to frame Ms Suu Kyi so she can be discredited and tried on a serious criminal charge. She is already being held on several more minor charges.

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A report in the state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the junta has expressed fresh concern about civil servants, teachers and medical workers joining the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) that is the vanguard group opposing last month’s military takeover.

CDM encourages employees of key enterprises, such as government offices, to stay away from work.

In what was a relatively conciliatory tone compared with earlier threats, the junta was reported at its Monday meeting to have described failing to show up at work as “not a crime but a violation of the civil service disciplines”. It said that for first offences, civil servants would have to sign confessions, but further offences would be dealt with according to civil service rules.

Previously, government employees have been detained for joining the CDM, and striking state railway workers have been kicked out of their government-supplied housing if they do not agree to go back to work.

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